Local pediatrician on high school sports COVID safety

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — High-risk high school sports for the upcoming fall season can be determined by vaccination statuses if schools decide to adopt the new recommendations set by the New York State Education Department.

Local pediatricians explained what families need to know if a student tests positive when it comes to gearing up.

Dr. Stephen Cook, a pediatrician with The University of Rochester’s Medical Center says vaccinations are the token to play. What can be difficult is figuring out masking or not in particular high school sports.

"One question comes up with wrestling, and the problem with wrestling isn’t so much that it’s not a high-risk sport, but it’s a risk of suffocation if a competitor strangles someone if they have a mask on or something versus a different sport,” Cook said.

If an athlete tests positive and has no symptoms they still have to quarantine for 10 days or until they’re released from the county health department.

"If they get symptoms, especially if they get any sign of cardiac symptoms, then they need to be evaluated by the cardiologist and there is a very specific protocol of when you return the athlete if you think it’s been affecting the heart,” Cook said.

After the isolation period, athletes have to then go through a return period.

"Four or five days they need to show that they have exercise tolerance a kid could have a mild case almost symptomatic but if there is inflammation of the heart and the kid starts exercising and gets worse symptoms that needs to be looked into,” Cook added.

If there is an outbreak and your athlete or student isn’t vaccinated it could lead to shutdowns again. Dr. Cook says the delta variant is four to eight times more contagious than the regular COVID strain.

"When it comes to play and sports and stuff we are still learning but we have more opportunities it’s a big priority is getting them back there and letting them interact so if we’re going to cut down on distancing then we have to use the mask and the vaccine,” Cook said.

The president of Monroe County Council of School Superintendents, Bo Wright released a statement saying it is up to school districts throughout the state to decide how to proceed when it comes to sports:

“The New York State education department has made a number of recommendations regarding the reopening of schools. Many of these suggestions align with guidance we have seen from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Now, it is up to school districts throughout the state to decide how to proceed. Every district has its own circumstances to consider and their plans will be shared as soon as possible. At this time, we have no indication that fall sports will be negatively impacted by the department of education’s recommendations. Along with the New York state public high school athletic association, we continue to monitor the situation. Local districts remain committed to reopening in-person five days a week."